Sincerity

 

Among those who are historically Reformed, evangelical, and confessional, the marks of the church are understood as three:

  1. The preaching of the Word
  2. The right administration of the sacraments; and
  3. The exercise of discipline.

While the Westminster Confession of Faith does not (unlike the Belgic Confession, art. 29) expressly term church discipline a “third mark” of the church, it nevertheless devotes an entire chapter to “Church Censures.” There it speaks of such censures as

“necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offences, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders” (Westminster Confession of Faith, XXX.3).

This confessional emphasis upon the “necessity” of church discipline is clearly reflected in the ARP Book of Discipline. It recognizes, first of all, that church discipline is necessary for the service of the Church in the world:

“Under the rule of Christ expressed through the Church, discipline is that submission that frees the Christian for more effective service. Such service by the Church in the world demands a disciplined individual and corporate life. Each Christian is incorporated into the disciplined community and is responsible under its government for the total ministry of the body as the body is responsible for each individual and group in the Church” (Book of Discipline, I.1).

It adds,

“The exercise of discipline is made necessary by the need more fully to reconcile Christian individuals or groups to God and one another, to prevent mercy from becoming a soft and finally cruel indulgence, and to control those whose words and actions may seriously hinder the witness of the whole body of Christ” (Book of Discipline, I.3).

In other words, church discipline is not an optional exercise for the church, and here we must ask how long a body that will not discipline its own members can continue to call itself an historic and Reformed church?

The question that was before Second Presbytery at its March meeting was whether the action by Dr. Richard Taylor, an elder in the Greenville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (GARPC) and a member of the Erskine Board of Trustees (EBOT), in suing the ARP Church in civil court, constituted a violation of his ordination vows. Five members of Second Presbytery had filed “charges” with the session of the GARPC against Dr. Taylor.

As the readers of ARPTalk are aware, this matter involves the civil suit brought by Erskine Trustees Dr. Taylor, Dr. Parker Young, and Mr. David Chesnut after the 2010 “Snow” Synod. In First Presbytery, after the session of the Pinecrest ARP Church refused to act with regard to Dr. Parker Young, First Presbytery voted to “assume original jurisdiction” of the matter (meaning that Dr. Young was answerable directly to First Presbytery in this matter).

In response to the actions of First Presbytery, Dr. Young fled the jurisdiction of First Presbytery by renouncing his vows of membership in the Pinecrest ARP Church. This means that he asked the session of the Pinecrest ARP Church to remove his name from the membership roll. In effect, by doing this, Dr. Young settled the question. Since First Presbytery had voted to assume jurisdiction of the matter and Dr. Young removed himself from the bounds of First Presbytery’s jurisdiction, the matter was settled in First Presbytery. Nevertheless, in First Presbytery the action of an elder in suing his own church in civil court is viewed as behavior calling for a process of church discipline.

The following are the vows that both elders and ministers take in the ARP Church:

  1. Do you believe in one God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and do you confess anew the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, and acknowledge Him Head over all things for the Church, which is His Body?
  2. Do you reaffirm your belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of the living God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice, to which nothing is to be added and from which nothing is to be taken at any time or upon any pretext?
  3. Do you accept the doctrines of this Church, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as founded on the Word of God and as the expression of your own faith and do you resolve to adhere thereto?
  4. Do you accept the government, discipline, and worship of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?
  5. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (deacon) in this congregation; and do you promise to perform faithfully all the duties of the office; and do you promise to endeavor by the grace of God to live your life in Christian witness before the church and in the world?
  6. Do you promise to submit in the spirit of love to the authority of the session and to the higher courts of the Church?
  7. Do you promise in all things to promote the unity, peace, purity, and prosperity of the church?”

(Form of Government, pp. 202-203)

The question that was put before the session of the GARPC was this: “Was Dr. Taylor’s action in suing the ARP Church in civil court a violation of his oath as an elder, particularly, was his action a violation of question 6: “Do you promise to submit in the spirit of love to the authority of the session and to the higher courts of the Church?” Quite obviously, Dr. Taylor rejected the ruling of General Synod at the “Snow Synod” and joined with others in suing the ARP Church in civil court. Was that action a violation of an elder’s vows?

Though the responses of the session of the GARPC to those who brought charges against Dr. Taylor are somewhat tedious and convoluted and overreaching at points, the basic arguments are as follows. One, since Dr. Taylor sincerely believed that as an EBOT trustee he was doing the right thing when he filed suit against the ARP Church in civil court (“That Dr. Taylor, as a trustee, truly believed that the action taken by the General Synod with respect to the attempted removal of certain trustees would be detrimental to the welfare of Erskine College and Seminary, and also believed that no other options were available to him and the other plaintiffs”), then his action superseded the ruling of the highest court of the ARP Church and the vows he had taken as an elder in the ARP Church.

Well, are we now to assume that we have a higher vow for elders and ministers – THE VOW OF SINCERITY? Also, are we also to assume that one’s loyalty to an agency board that General Synod has appointed one to serve on in behalf of and for the sake of the General Synod is a greater loyalty than one’s loyalty to the General Synod itself?

Two, the Session argued that Dr. Taylor’s actions were vindicated by the General Synod’s action in June of 2010 renouncing its effort to replace the Erskine Board of Trustees (“That the terms of the settlement overwhelmingly approved by the General Synod at the June 2010 meeting are almost identical to the relief sought by Dr. Taylor and the other plaintiffs in their action”). The argument here seems to be that since the “Compromise” of the 2010 June meeting of the General Synod resulted in a return to the status quo, and, since the legal actions by Dr. Taylor and others were dropped, then “no foul” took place with regard to vows. However, in the negotiations that took place, the plaintiffs attempted to extract from General Synod’s representatives a statement that would have provided immunity from ecclesiastical discipline for those ARP elders who had raised their hand to sue their church in civil court. Of course, such a concession could not be given.

Three, the Session argued that the dismissal of charges serves to promote the unity, peace, purity, and prosperity of the church (“That the matter has been settled between the parties to the litigation and further proceedings would not promote, but would instead hinder, the ‘unity, peace, purity and prosperity of the church’ as provided in the Form of Government.”). This is an evasion of the issue. Obviously, there is a question that is left unanswered, is there not? Is suing one’s church in civil court a violation of an elder’s vows?

This must be a particularly touchy matter for the session of the GARPC. The four ministers and one elder who brought charges against Dr. Taylor were not informed of the process of the session’s action or invited to be present or to present their case before the GARPC’s session. Then, when Second Presbytery met, the session of the GARPC circularized the presbytery with a 10-plus-page argument for their case before the matter even came before the presbytery, which is generally looked on as a violation of our procedures because it is an imposition on the court of arguments before the case is even taken up.

And this must also be a particularly touchy issue for Second Presbytery. These same men who brought charges against Dr. Taylor were not allowed to present their case before Second Presbytery either. Second Presbytery simply refused to hear the case without explanation.

This matter has now become a “Complaint” (something like an appeal) before the General Synod. This “Complaint” is signed by four ministers and two elders in Second Presbytery.

There are two questions looming before the 2012 General Synod:

  1. Is the action of an elder in suing his church in civil court a violation of the vows of an elder? and
  2. Does SINCERITY trump the vows of an elder?

I wonder if General Synod, unlike Second Presbytery, is willing to give a fair hearing to the Complaint that is before it. I wonder if General Synod is willing to give straight answers to the questions that are raised by the Complaint.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Sincerity… it reminds me of this illustration:

    Sincerity

    Just like those caught up in the false religions of the world, they can be very sincere in their beliefs, but can indeed be sincerely wrong… we have to love them enough to show them the err of their ways… lest we be guilty of not shouting down from the watchtower, warning them of their impending danger. That’s where discipline comes in… in love… for the purpose of restoration, as quoted from the WCF above…

    All we can do, however, in the end, is shout… it’s up to them to listen.

     
  2. Tony Locke says:

    I think the issue hinges more on the assumptions. You ask, “Is suing one’s church in civil court a violation of an elder’s vows?”

    I think the question begs the answer, “YES!”

    The problem is in the interpretation of the history. Those who filed the injunction would argue they were slowing down the ARP Church from possibly breaking the law and putting ourselves at even greater risk for future “liability” lawsuits.

    Synod was opening the door for massively expensive lawsuits by doing something that no lawyer in the ARP court was able to answer to everyone’s satisfaction. “Does South Carolina 501 c3 law allow us to do what we are voting to do?”

    As ministers we did what we thought was right, but there was no guarantee we were acting within the law. That was my experience. I would do it again by the way. I think Synod was “in their right.”

    These rogue elders did not “sue” the ARP Synod. They put our plan in limbo while they asked for a legal ruling over our plan. I assumed they were ready to submit once we won the lawsuit. Even if they were not, they would have if we had won.

    Did we really not anticipate this? Synod should have seen this legal necessity and filed the injunction ourselves! We could have acted like family, covered the cost for both sides, and acted like grown ups. We were the ones testing SC laws. We should have ponied up.

    Synod put the trustees in a terrible position. They would have been sued by some group of alumni for not acting. The lawsuit they would have faced would have been for damages to the school. They were forced to act.

    Their actions were done decently and in order. They did not “sue” the Synod for damages. They filed an injunction in the same courts where Synod, decades earlier, “sued” the Erskine corporation.

    What!?

    Are our memories really so short or limited?

    If we are going to “rule” that all outside courts are invalid over the Church, then we need to explain why Synod took the Erskine family to court and filed a legal request for the State of SC to give separate non-profit status over Erskine? Did not Synod “beg” the secular courts to establish their secular laws as a binding and legal guide for the relationship between Synod and Erskine?

    And now a few elders, sincerely trying to shield Synod from more serious legal trouble, asked the court for an interpretation of the same laws that Synod asked to govern our relationship.

    And Synod should be angry? For what? I think we should have won the case and returned with a mandate to do all we had in our hearts to do.

    Instead we got our panties in a wad when we were held accountable for our actions, which I think would have been sustained by the secular courts.

    And where are we now? No where. We are right back where we started. This is the history as I remember it.

    My solution? I say we go another round, in the courts, and this time we make sure we are in it to win it.

     
    • Tony,

      You obfuscated the question. The question is this: “Is it a violation of one’s ordination vows to sue his church in civil court?” Notwithstanding all that you say, the question remains. I suppose your opt for “sincerity.” Nevertheless, we need directions regarding this question. That directions were not given in the 60s is to our shame. Long time to wait, isn’t it? If leadership had been demonstrated then, we would not be asking the question now.

      Your solution is to go back into civil court and spend more money on lawyers! Are you kidding? ARPs are too cheap to do that. Tony, that ain’t going to happen! Say, why don’t we answer the question and give directives?

      My solution: let Erskine go its way, and let the ARP Church go her way. Let’s see if Erskine can service as an education institution, and let’s see if the ARP church can survive as a church.

      Tony, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the ARP Church being the “Sugar Mama” that feeds a 180-year-old baby that won’t grow up and feed itself.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  3. Tony Locke says:

    Sorry my assumed implications were not obvious.

    1. I believe it is wrong for a ruling or teaching elder to take the denomination, or their church or Presbytery, to court over issues of theology or “church governance issues.”
    2. I believe it is good for believers to go before the court for other issues. (marriage, purchase contracts, etc.)
    3. I believe the ARP Synod was not wrong for taking the Erskine family to court and setting them up as a separate legal entity so they could apply for government grants, shoulder the responsibility for their own liability, build a marketable brand outside the “church”, etc.
    4. I believe you are misleading your audience by using the word “sue.” They did not sue the ARP. They asked for an interpretation of the law for everyone’s benefit. It was the wisest thing to do under the circumstances. With 20/20 vision I would hope that most ministers would wish that the Synod had filed the same paperwork for unquestionable legitimacy concerning our actions. With a friendly-family joy we should have filed the request for a legal ruling seeing there was not a unified legal opinion about our decisions.
    5. “Is it a violation of one’s ordination vows to sue his church in civil court?” YES! A Censure would be in order at least if this is what happened. My version of the history is different than yours and therefore I feel the appeal from Second Presbytery should be dropped.
    6. Should Erskine go their way? At this point I am not sure I understand the benefit to us or them by our tense alliance. I would not have an upset stomach and I would sleep fine at night, no regrets, if our connection were only historical.

    Chuck, I love you more than I love Erskine. I do not intend to carry on a back and forth over this issue. Call me if you want to discuss it more. 770-940-9959.

    May God richly bless you for your love and energy which is abundantly evident for Christ’s Church

     
    • Dear Tony Locke,

      You write “I believe . . . I believe . . . I believe. . . .” You have made my point. We are operating in the “Land of Judges” where “every man does that which is right in his own eyes,” that is, “I believe” or, to put it another way, “SINCERITY.”

      We have no directives – NO GUIDANCE – regarding this matter. Don’t you think that it is time that we do?

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  4. Dean Turbeville says:

    Tony, there are several things you say which are true. It is true that Synod was within its rights in replacing the board, and it is true that we would have won that issue in court if we had persevered a bit longer in the legal process that was forced upon us (4/5 of the district court judge’s decision had already been overruled in a first reading!). It is also true that we all may have been naive about the willingness of folks to take each other to court. Points well taken.
    But brother, I can make no sense of the claim that getting a marriage license is the same moral issue as using civil courts to block an ecclesitical decision with which one disagrees. More to the point, your claim that this legal action against the church was a benign request for an interpretation of law is a woefully naive version of the events. I wish your take on their motives was true, Tony, but I was in the courthouse when the plaintiffs made their case. The Synod was characterized as a outside influence over the school, a malignant force, and a denomination taken over by extreme fanatics. It was clear from the testimony that a mere clarification of law was not the reason men were spending tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers. Instead, extreme umbrage that the denomination had tried to replace them with others, and a desire to protect the “old” (read: liberal since the 1960’s) Erskine, were the clearly-stated motivations for the plaintiffs.
    Tony, recently, an old friend — with whom I had not spoken since we were in high school — contacted me out of the blue. We met for coffee to renew our friendship. In passing, this Christian father mentioned that his daughter had attended Erskine. She credits Erskine with teaching her “how to think,” as well as her purposeful apostasy from Christianity.
    Brother, especially after the Board’s recent rejection of Synod’s modest charter proposal, it is time to end the charade in Due West. It is time to end the corrupting and divisive influence of Erskine upon the ARP Synod. And you are wrong to think that there is any heart left in our Synod for the kind of serious reform like that which was attempted before.
    So let there be a separation, some reasonable division of assets, along with a confession of our sins as a church, and perhaps some healing can begin.

     
    • Tony Locke says:

      We agree on almost all of the points to the discussion.

      I was not there that I might discern their intentions for the injunction. Still though, the legal paperwork that is public, void of their intentions, carries only a request for the non-profit law to be interpreted. They did not sue Synod for damages.

      Therefore, the parallel to a marriage licence is not that distant. (I know it’s a stretch!) There’s two believers standing before a judge asking for civil law to govern their relationship.

      Synod did that with Erskine Trustees years ago in a family friendly environment. Years later we stood before that same court for a further interpretation of the law regarding our relationship.

      Motives, passions of the heart, etc. are not my concern. I am talking about the publicly recorded facts. Their demeanor, anger or slander toward Synod is not germane to what we all needed, which was the interpretation of the law for or plan to be implemented.

      This was not just about the ARP. Lots of denominations have found themselves at odds with their academic institutions. Our winning this case would have set a precedence for other church courts to more tightly manage their educational institutions. The ARP ran away from a noble fight. We have won nothing, yet we still spent our money. What a waste of energy.

      P.S. Chuck and I talked for over an hour about this out of this forum. The big question is the path forward. I see no path forward to each organization’s mutual benefit. I see no win-win. Half a million dollars a year from Synod is not that big a hole to fill. With 11,000 alumni, that’s only $50 a year from each of them to cover the loss if we separate further. My biggest beef in this conversation is my opinion that Synod forced the hand of the trustees and 1 Cor 6 is not in play. I will not put my arguments out there again. I think my views on this are well known. I have spoken to this multiple times on this website and on the floor of Synod.

       
      • James Curtis says:

        Rev. Locke,

        Whether the term “sue” or not was used, I think the passage everyone is alluding to is 1 Cor. 6:1. However, you claim it is “not in play.”

        Rather clearly, I think, it is. Turning to Calvin’s commentary on the matter he clearly writes, “Now, this reproof [of Paul] consists of two parts. The first is, that by bringing their disputes before the tribunals of the wicked, they by this means made the gospel contemptible, and exposed it to derision. The second is, that while Christians ought to endure injuries with patience, they inflicted injury on others, rather than allow themselves to be subjected to any inconvenience.”

        Calvin also writes, “‘Dare any of you…’ This is the first statement- that, if any one has a controversy with a brother, it ought to be decided before GODLY judges, and it ought not be decided before those that are ungodly. If the reason is asked… it is because disgrace is brought upon the Gospel, and the name of Christ is held up as it were to the scoffings of the ungodly.”

        Furthermore, Calvin states, “A second reason may be added- that we treat our brethren disdainfully, when we of our own accord subject them to the decisions of unbelievers.”

        It think it’s clear that Calvin didn’t have the same view of 1 Cor. 6:1 that you do. As a matter of fact, he goes further, in my judgment, and thinks that if a believer takes another believer to court (whether for law-suit or to slow the church) he is bringing shame to the Gospel.

        Let’s also not overlook that Paul never uses the word “sue” or “lawsuit” in the text. “Matter against another,” “grievance,” and “dispute” are the best translations I can find. No use of the word “sue” there either. But, again, I have to agree with Calvin on the context and purpose of Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 6. Suing and filing an injunction bring the same shame and derision to the Gospel.

        Respectfully,
        James Curtis

        *All emphasis is mine.

         
      • Scott Robar says:

        Tony, you rightly said, “This was not just about the ARP. Lots of denominations have found themselves at odds with their academic institutions. Our winning this case would have set a precedence for other church courts to more tightly manage their educational institutions. The ARP ran away from a noble fight. We have won nothing, yet we still spent our money. What a waste of energy.”

        That is exactly why I and a few others signed the protest against the compromise at Synod. As I see it, we either cut ties with Erskine or (what I’d rather see) we cut the funding while maintaining our interest in Erskine – we could set aside that $600K per year in a legal defense fund. At some future point the Synod may get sued, regarding its interest in Erskine. At that time, we could defend ourselves and see this matter through (as we should have done earlier)to one conclusion or the other – either a denomination has a right to influence its institution or not. Worst case scenario is that we lose – and so, then, will all other religious entities which have schools.

         
  5. Tony Locke says:

    Also, for some of you looking for the documentation underlying this discussion, you can go to a blog I am running at

    http://www.arpchurch.com/category/erskine-college/

     
  6. Daniel Stephens says:

    I find it interesting that whenever the prospect of cutting ties with Erskine is mentioned, the Erskine crowd characterizes those in favor as cruel, hateful, radicals. However, the recent trend on this blog, the incontrovertible bastion of the most odious fundamentalism, has displayed more exhaustion than exasperation.

     
    • Dear Mr. Daniel Stephens,

      I always enjoy reading your comments because you get my attention. You are correct that I am often described by the Erskinites as “cruel,” “hateful,” and “radical”; however, you forgot “ignorant-fundy,” “mean,” “evil,” and “non-Christian.” Indeed, we want to be as accurate as possible. But what do you expect from a group of foolish and wayward and backward and blinded people who worship under the green trees of the sacrifice of students’ souls before the idol of the “Two Towers” of infamy that point to the clouds of disgrace and cast shadows of delusions over those who dwell in Castle Belk and hide from the light in the darkness of the Keep of Disingenuousness.

      Now, Daniel, I want you to know that I am not even near “exhaustion.” What you see in me presently is a little caution. Did you know that I’m being threatened again for revealing the goings on in the Erskine community? Yes, yes, indeed, it seems that the Erskinites are attempting to either bring legal action against me or ecclesiastical charges against me, or both. They really don’t like me much! They really don’t like public criticism and ridicule! One must not say anything negative about their god! Well, let it be known publicly, I declare that their god is an idol and not God!

      Daniel, what you see in me is not exhaustion but “enough.” One of the great characters of the 40s and 50s in Charlotte was the Rev. “Sweet Daddy Grace.” He actually said that when he died he would rise again from the dead on the third day. After about a month of “keeping him out” and vigils, “Daddy” didn’t smell so good, so his followers gave up and put him in the ground. Well, I have finally come to the conclusion that Erskine is a stinking and rotting corpse. Too long we ARPs have danced with and kept vigils over the dead! I’m sick and tired of all the Tartuffery that I have seen coming out of Erskine leaders and worshippers. It is time that the Church of Jesus Christ as she is represented by the ARP Church let the corpse go and washed the stink off. Let those who want to embrace a delusion have at it. This is not exhaustion; it’s reality.

      Once again, thank you for your words, Daniel. You seem to excite my imagination.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  7. Dear Members of the Erskine Board of Trustees,

    Below is a copy of a letter that was sent out to the alumni of Covenant College. I bet you folks can find a pointer or two in choosing Presidents in this letter – well, maybe.

    “March 16, 2012

    Dear Covenant College alumni,

    On behalf of the Covenant College Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce the selection of Dr. J. Derek Halvorson ’93 as the sixth president of Covenant College. Dr. Halvorson’s tenure will begin on July 1, 2012.

    The unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees evidences our strongly-held belief that Dr. Halvorson will provide the godly leadership needed to further advance the College’s mission of exploring and expressing the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things.
    Dr. Halvorson is the president of Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California. In addition to his current executive position, he brings experience in fundraising and constituent relations from his previous roles at Covenant, and experience in teaching at the university level and in the financial markets. HE HAS BEEN ORDAINED AS A RULING ELDER IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA (PCA), AND HE MUST PASS A THEOLOGICAL EXAM ADMINISTERED BY THE PCA PRIOR TO HIS INAUGURATION. [my emphasis]

    After graduating cum laude from Covenant with a bachelor of arts in history, Dr. Halvorson earned a master of arts from the University of Arizona and a doctorate of philosophy from Loyola University Chicago – both in history. He and his wife, Wendy, are the parents of a son and a daughter.

    In addition to selecting the sixth president, the Board of Trustees today unanimously voted to sign a letter of intent with Providence Christian College, expressing Covenant’s intent to acquire Providence. We believe this sister institution – a small, Reformed, residential liberal arts college on the West Coast – is a remarkable fit with Covenant’s mission and purpose and offers an opportunity for Covenant to extend the reach of its mission. In consultation with key constituencies, including the faculty, we will with due diligence pursue the acquisition and operation of Providence Christian College.

    We are thankful for God’s faithful and generous blessings upon Covenant College since its founding in 1955 in Pasadena, California, and we look forward to continuing to advance Covenant’s founding mission under Dr. Halvorson’s leadership in this new chapter in the life of the College.

    Sincerely,

    Martin A. Moore
    Chairman, Board of Trustees”

    The Chairman of the Covenant Board of Trustees writes that the new President of Covenant College “must pass a theological exam administered by the PCA prior to his inauguration.” In the past, perhaps, just perhaps, if you good folks on the Erskine board who are “competent,” “informed,” “engaged,’ and “fiduciarialy responsible” had used such wisdom, the impasse in which you now find yourselves with the ARP Church might not be there. Well, just a thought!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Dear Dr. David Norman and members of the Erskine Board,

      Do you folks, who are “competent,” “engaged,” “informed,” and “fiduciarily responsible,” know that the Chairman of the PCA examination committee that examines all PCA denominational hires (i.e., the President at Covenant College), lives in Due West, SC?

      Are you aware that he teaches at Erskine Theological Seminary?

      He is utilized by the PCA, but not by the ARP Church or Erskine College or Erskine Theological Seminary or the EBOT, even though he could be of great help with the hiring of new faculty/staff/administrators at the college and seminary.

      His name is Dr. Terry Eves. Have you even considered using him as a consultant?

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  8. Ken Huff says:

    Chuck and others:

    While staing the obvious, it is the day before Easter when those that don’t often think about the Cross now will. This matter of elder ordination and vows has a tremendous connection to the Gospel and the Cross. 1 Cor 6 makes it clear that belivers don’t sue. They are to rather be defrauded. So, the elder suing the church looks more like the action of an unbeliver and should be called sin, since Paul told the Corinthians this was already a defeatfrom themand us now. Christ died for the church, and Paul’s instructions were to the church. Later, in 1 Cor 6 Paul reminds the reader of the Gospel(vs11) and let’s the reader know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. The actions mentioned in that passage are all sins of selfish desire. The matter of this lawsuit was indeed just that a selfish desire and a violation of Scripture.

    The Cross should be on glorious display this week so that the tremendous Glory of God in Christ is seen as magnificiant and powerful, having all men drawn to it (John 12). Yet, many have reason to mock the Cross because of Dr. Taylor and this lawsiut . . . shameful.

    It is easy to lose sight of individuals in this matter and it quickly drifts to the relationships of institutions and organizations. I am more concerned over the sin of one individual and how his lack of obedience to his vows as an ARP elder have given reason for unbelivers to mock my precious Savior, His Gospel,and His Church. This “brother” should repent and seek the forgiveness of His Savior and the Church.

    The incredible thing about these ordination vows is that these vows are reasonable things for all believers to do not just elders in the church. So, one would expect these affrimations to be visable and habitual in the life of an elder who is being an example of the believers in such things.

    Dr. Taylor, I lovingly, gently but firmly beg you to forsake your actions an repent of your sin of suing the church and seek forgiveness and loving restoration within the body of Christ. God’s mercy and grace is wide and deep. Let it heal your soul!

     
  9. Tony Locke says:

    The SBC wins back their school . . . too bad we didn’t fight to win.

    ======================================================

    Louisiana College wins court fight over scripture

    Written by Leigh Jones,

    Louisiana College trustees and administrators at the end of March won what could be the last battle in a long war over the school’s adherence to its biblical foundation.

    On March 28, a Louisiana district court judge dismissed a suit brought against the school by four professors who claimed defamation and infliction of emotional distress in a disagreement with school leaders over the inerrancy of scripture.

    In what school administrators have billed a landmark decision upholding religious liberty on campus, Judge Mary Doggett ruled that because the disagreement centered on theology, secular courts had no jurisdiction in the matter.

    “Under the Establishment Clause, the consideration is whether the issues which the Court will have to resolve will necessarily turn upon competing interpretations of religion, thus resulting in the court becoming ‘entangled’ in an ecclesiastical dispute,”

    Doggett wrote, referencing the First Amendment. “The ‘Entanglement Doctrine’ provides that a court must decline jurisdiction over a lawsuit when the dispute is so intertwined with matters of religion that a proper resolution cannot be made without interpreting or choosing between competing religious principles or doctrines.”

    “The ‘Entanglement Doctrine’ provides that a court must decline jurisdiction over a lawsuit when the dispute is so intertwined with matters of religion that a proper resolution cannot be made without interpreting or choosing between competing religious principles or doctrines.”

    The case brought by the four professors-Carlton Winbery, Frederick Downing, James Heath and Connie Douglas-clearly arose out of a theological dispute, Doggett concluded.

    During depositions, the professors “candidly testified that their errant view of the Bible was in conflict with the inerrant beliefs of the [school] administration,” according to Doggett’s ruling.

    The professors filed suit in 2005 against the school amid a growing furor over the school’s movement away from Baptist doctrine. The professors fueled the controversy with statements they made during class, including voicing skepticism over the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Mary’s virginity, school President Joe Aguillard said.

    In response to complaints from parents and students about how liberal the small college in Pineville, La., had become, the Louisiana Baptist Convention appointed a new slate of conservative trustees to oversee operations, Aguillard said: “Their goal was to bring the college back to its biblical roots.”

    When several faculty members recommended using M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” as the cornerstone text in a course on Christian values, Aguillard and other administrators baulked. The school’s academic freedom policy allowed the book to be used in the course, as long as the professors told students it was written based on Buddhist principles. Any teaching about the book also had to include a juxtaposition of Christian values against the values set forth in the book.

    As soon as Aguillard denied the professors’ request to use the book as a cornerstone text, they filed suit.

    The resulting court battle, which dragged on for almost seven years, was not the first time a Louisiana court was asked to weigh in on the fight over the theological direction of Louisiana College. When the Board of Trustees in late 2004 promoted Aguillard, then a faculty member, to the school’s top job, a group of donors and alumni concerned about his conservative views filed suit. The state’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school.

    Before the latest case reached court, all four professors retired. While the school won the case in district court, the professors could appeal.

    Although the infighting over the school raged for about four years, starting in 2003, disagreements over the school’s stand on the inerrancy of scripture are pretty much over now, Aguillard said. During the last five years, enrollment has grown by 89 percent. The school is building more dormitories and hiring more teachers for its 1,600 students. It just opened a School of Divinity, and next year, Louisiana College will welcome its first class of law students.

    Aguillard attributed the school’s recent growth to its willingness to stand up for biblical truth: “God’s Word is true, and Louisiana College will never move from its position on biblical inerrancy, regardless of attacks from any and all directions.”

     
  10. Jay West says:

    Scott Robar

    “We have won nothing, yet we still spent our money. What a waste of energy.”

    RESPONSE: I would like to remind all readers of the money that has been allocated to the children of ARP ministers over the years to fund their tuition costs. To falsely proclaim, “we have wasted our energy or money,” is completely disingenuous. As a former administrator at Erskine, it never ceased to amaze me how many ministerial critics of the institution were vocal until it came time for their child to have their financial package awarded. In concert, it was amazing how many students of ARP ministers received a full scholarship and rather than be thankful, the minister was full of venom and hatred toward the institution. Mr. Turbeville was quick to offer criticism of the institution, but failed to enroll his daughter at another institution due to his dissatisfaction. Money?
    Dean Turbeville

    “Tony, recently, an old friend — with whom I had not spoken since we were in high school — contacted me out of the blue. We met for coffee to renew our friendship. In passing, this Christian father mentioned that his daughter had attended Erskine. She credits Erskine with teaching her “how to think,” as well as her purposeful apostasy from Christianity.”

    RESPONSE: It’s quite amazing that some parents are quick to blame the institution for providing a corrupt and divisive ethos for learning, yet they never seem to take any responsibility for their own parenting or shepherding in the faith. I would venture to say that for all such complainants there are multiples of students who grew in their faith.

    “It is time to end the corrupting and divisive influence of Erskine upon the ARP Synod. And you are wrong to think that there is any heart left in our Synod for the kind of serious reform like that which was attempted before.”

    RESPONSE: What you were seeking was indoctrination, not reform. I would posit that your influence on former students and the pattern of behavior you exemplified left many to question the motives of Christian ministers.

    Chuck Wilson:
    Dr. Taylor, I lovingly, gently but firmly beg you to forsake your actions and repent of your sin of suing the church and seek forgiveness and loving restoration within the body of Christ. God’s mercy and grace is wide and deep. Let it heal your soul!

    RESPONSE: You are using Holy Week as a vehicle to take yet another shot at Richard Taylor? Wow! Richard Taylor is a devout Christian who lives his life with grace and awe of the gift he has in Christ. He is genuine!

     
    • Dear Mr. Jay West,

      Though you do not use quotation marks, you attribute the following quote to me: “Dr. Taylor, I lovingly, gently but firmly beg you to forsake your actions and repent of your sin of suing the church and seek forgiveness and loving restoration within the body of Christ. God’s mercy and grace is wide and deep. Let it heal your soul!”

      Mr. West, you have a BS, MDiv, and DMin from Erskine, and you worked as an Erskine administrator; therefore, I expect more from you. THE WORDS YOU QUOTE AND ATTRIBUTE TO ME ARE NOT MINE. I DID NOT WRITE THOSE WORDS.

      You have a great deal to say in your long post. Are your other comments as accurate and trustworthy as this one?

      Get it right!!! It’s not that hard!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  11. “I would like to remind all readers of the money that has been allocated to the children of ARP ministers over the years to fund their tuition costs….”

    Scott Robar was quoting Tony Locke. I think pastor Locke’s comment, when read in context, refers to the Synod of 2011, not the relationship between the ARP and Erskine prior to that. So the response mentioning scholarships over the years is simply talking past his point. But even aside from that, the argument that the ARP can’t complain because of past benevolence is problematic. Here is an analogous argument: The US government forbids the ARP church from using the Bible. Then when the ARP church protests, the government replies, “You can’t complain because we have been giving your church tax exemption status for years now.”

     
  12. James Curtis says:

    “It’s quite amazing that some parents are quick to blame the institution for providing a corrupt and divisive ethos for learning, yet they never seem to take any responsibility for their own parenting or shepherding in the faith. I would venture to say that for all such complainants there are multiples of students who grew in their faith.” – Dr. Jay West

    Dr. West, explain something to me, will you? Tell me why it is the case that we are told NOT to blindly accept what our parents tell us and to embrace the “critical thinking” of Erskine College, yet when a girl uses said “critical thinking” found at Erskine and goes apostate it is the fault of her parents?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

     
    • Dear Mr. James Curtis,

      You have made a very good point; however, don’t expect a reply from Dr. West. He usually wilts in the face of reality. He still lives in the fantasy bubble of Due West and Erskine.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  13. Jay West says:

    Dr. West, explain something to me, will you? Tell me why it is the case that we are told NOT to blindly accept what our parents tell us and to embrace the “critical thinking” of Erskine College, yet when a girl uses said “critical thinking” found at Erskine and goes apostate it is the fault of her parents?

    Is the Holy Spirit the only One with the power to change a heart? Is God providential and sovereign? Is the young lady reacting to the example set before her by members of the clergy when they use the end to justify the means? Has she seen a contradiction in what they teach and how they live?

     
    • James Curtis says:

      Dr. West,

      What does the sovereignty of God, as a doctrine, have to do with my question? I thank you for your swift reply, however, you did not address my question. The topic at hand is not whether I believe in the efficacious nature of the Holy Spirit. I would appreciate it if you addressed the question at hand. In the words of a great teacher I had, “Answer the questions before you, not the ones you wish I had asked.”

      Furthermore, how many clergy do I, a Bible major, see at Erskine College? Well, my professor, Dr. Evans, I see on a fairly regular basis. I see the minister of the church I attend on a regular basis. I might see Dr. Gore or another of the Seminary profs once a month. A girl who might not have been a Bible major would see the clergy at Erskine much less than I would, I assure you.

      The question is not whether they see ministers doing their job. The question is about Erskine College professors, not ARP Clergy. Many students here don’t even see the clergy! Dr. West, you’re not ignorant of the fact that students were ridiculed for believing what their parents did! You even presented then man who was doing it, Dr. Crenshaw, as a great man of faith!

      Trust me we’re not talking about the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re talking about infidelity to the mission of Erskine College, and disloyalty to the ARPC. We’re talking about students who came as believers who are now apostate, and outside the Church. Should we be proud of that Erskine, Dr. West?

      Respectfully,
      James Curtis

       

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